The Revenge Of Rain-In-The-Face

In that desolate land and lone,
Where the Big Horn and Yellowstone
Roar down their mountain path,
By their fires the Sioux Chiefs
Muttered their woes and griefs
And the menace of their wrath.

"Revenge!" cried Rain-in-the-Face,
"Revenue upon all the race
Of the White Chief with yellow hair!"
And the mountains dark and high
From their crags re-echoed the cry
Of his anger and despair.

In the meadow, spreading wide
By woodland and riverside
The Indian village stood;
All was silent as a dream,
Save the rushing a of the stream
And the blue-jay in the wood.

In his war paint and his beads,
Like a bison among the reeds,
In ambush the Sitting Bull
Lay with three thousand braves
Crouched in the clefts and caves,
Savage, unmerciful!

Into the fatal snare
The White Chief with yellow hair
And his three hundred men
Dashed headlong, sword in hand;
But of that gallant band
Not one returned again.

The sudden darkness of death
Overwhelmed them like the breath
And smoke of a furnace fire:
By the river's bank, and between
The rocks of the ravine,
They lay in their bloody attire.

But the foemen fled in the night,
And Rain-in-the-Face, in his flight
Uplifted high in air
As a ghastly trophy, bore
The brave heart, that beat no more,
Of the White Chief with yellow hair.

Whose was the right and the wrong?
Sing it, O funeral song,
With a voice that is full of tears,
And say that our broken faith
Wrought all this ruin and scathe,
In the Year of a Hundred Years.

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Comments (12)

A very good poem, well thought out.... thank u. tony
''To him who feels himself preordained to contemplation and not to belief, all believers are too noisy and obstrusive; he guards against them.'' - Friedrich Nietzsche, 'Beyond Good & Evil'
It's a very sad indictment for this website too, after every viewing of this great anti-war, idiocy of human unconsciousness poem, to show a video promotion / enrollment of young people for the R.A.F. If anyone has any doubt about Bukowski's poem, this is proof that, as yet, people will be intentionally pitched against people by the evil powers that be. Power, Money, Domination, Fear and fear of domination, Religion, Nationalism, God, Divide and conquer. It's all in this poem, as a prophetic warning and a timeless vision too the hideous vagaries of man(kind?)
This poem is a call for us to understand the intentions behind people's actions. That is good advice.
I personally feel as though this poem was written not only as a sad testimony of the time in which it was written, but also as a warning of what such thinking will lead to. Ultimately, when we live in a society in which the majority are either ignorant of or actively trying to suppress such things as art, beauty, love, truth, and so on, we do end up with these violent clashes (sometimes, metaphorically as in the clashing of two generations, other times, not so peacefully (i.e. protests turning into violent riots.) Furthermore, I would like to address Mr. Mitchenko's critique. Personally, I feel the Bukowski left the poem purposefully vague so that its impact could easily be felt for years to come. Had he (Bukowski) specified what the issues were that caused him to feel this way - in detail, no less, the poem would have lost its timeless luster and effect. Furthermore, the poem you describe that you wish Bukowski had written, to me, would make a fine essay for that time period, but would such a direct, detailed criticism (sans the unfocused whimsy that allows it to be relevant even today) truly be comprable to the artfully grim piece before us?
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